The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which takes care of the Gyanvapi mosque, on Tuesday moved the Allahabad High Court challenging a Varanasi court order allowing the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a scientific survey of the mosque premises, reported Bar and Bench.
The committee approached the High Court a day after the Supreme Court stayed the Varanasi court order till July 26 and directed the petitioners to approach the High Court.
The Supreme Court order had come hours after a 30-member team of the Archaeological Survey started the survey of mosque premises at 7 am on Monday. The Varanasi court had allowed the survey on Friday in response to a petition by a group of Hindu litigants seeking the right to hold prayers inside the mosque compound.
District judge AK Vishvesha had ordered the survey, including excavation if necessary, to determine if the mosque was built on a temple as the Hindu petitioners have claimed. Muslims should not be restricted from offering prayers during the survey and no damage should be done to the mosque, the court had told the authorities.
The Allahabad High Court had held in May that a scientific survey could be done of an oval-shaped object found in the mosque premises.
The oval-shaped object was found in May last year during a survey of the mosque premises ordered by a Varanasi civil court. The Hindu litigants in the case claimed that the object was a shivling – a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva. However, the caretaker committee of the mosque claimed the object was a defunct fountainhead in the wazu khana, or ablution tank.
Citing the High Court order allowing the survey of the oval-shaped object, the Hindu litigants filed a fresh petition asking for a survey of the entire mosque. They claimed that the “shivling” has existed at the site for “lakhs of years” and had been damaged several times by Muslim invaders who had “hatred against infidels and idol worshippers”.
The petition contended that the structure of the mosque suggests that it is the remains of an old Hindu temple.